He's waiting for you...
Under a blanket of snow, surrounded by dark woods and a frozen sea, lies an ogre's castle. There lives a little princess, trapped in the maze of her own mind.
On a battlefield where the past meets the present stand a fairy godmother and a pirate, an old ice cream man and a knight in shining clean armor...
The clock is ticking fast, and to pierce the ogre's secrets and defeat him, Island Chaptal will have to fight to remember...and stay alive.
Can the Lions and the Roomba cats be stopped before it's too late?
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Table of Contents
He’ll go against mountains and cross rivers,
he’ll tread a pathway through heaped-up snows,
he’ll set sail, neither fearing Eurus’s raging east winds,
nor waiting for stars propitious for his voyage.
Who but a soldier or lover could endure the chill of night,
and torrents of mingled snow and rain?
—Ovid, Amores, Elegy IX: Of Love and War
Leaning against the wall, his arms crossed, his captor had yet to speak. Instead he observed through tranquil icy blue eyes that gave no signs of impatience or even anger. The man people called Auben knew better. The plastic sheeting covering every surface of the empty and windowless room spoke louder than any threat to come.
A soft patter somewhere above him caught Auben’s attention. A butterfly had managed to get trapped in hell with him, drawn by the single lamp hanging from the ceiling. It kept hitting the scalding glass desperately, eager for the light to consume it. He willed his body to relax in the ropes holding his four limbs tightly strapped to a steel chair. Bolted to the floor. Auben recognized the eye for detail of a consummate professional. He drew a steady breath. Death he did not fear. It was part of the job, both the sentence and the reward, a leap into blessed darkness. Everything in between now and death . . . was another matter.
As he had been taught, he closed his eyes and mentally let go of his body. There was only so much pain the flesh could take, and he knew—or rather trusted—that beyond that threshold would come a sense of numbness. It would help. He repeated in his head, like a mantra, that he had led a good life, all forty years of it, that whatever his executioner sliced, broke, or tore would be useless meat scraped from a body that was already dead.
After a prolonged silence, spit-shined brogues shifted on the plastic. The man came out of the shadows and walked across the room, his stride slow, predatory. He went to open a black suitcase resting on an instruments tray, a few feet from the chair.
“I heard you were dead,” Auben remarked, his tone cordial even as a drop of sweat burned its way down his temple.
His host never stopped searching the case, moving aside a compartment where two semiautomatics and their suppressors lay encased in foam. “You shouldn’t believe everything you hear, broer.”